‘The bomber’ captures the athleticism and bravery of a WWI soldier


Based on drawings made in the field, Web Gilbert’s (1867-1925) The bomber c.1915-21 depicts a First World War figure of a grenade-throwing soldier. The swinging leverage of the soldier’s outstretched arms practically rotates above the power and stability of his climbing stride. With this strong and balanced stance, Gilbert at once captures the athleticism and bravery of his subject.

RELATED: ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in the First World War quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day. ANZAC Day, 25 April, marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties and commemorates all the conflicts that followed.

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Web Gilbert The bomber c.1915-21

Gilbert trained as an evening student at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, under Fredrick McCubbin and Bernard Hall. By day he was a pastry cook, becoming a leading chef before establishing his own full-time studio and foundry in Fitzroy in 1908.

Late in 1917 Gilbert joined the Australian Imperial Force as a sculptor in the War Records Section, and after the war travelled throughout France gathering information to make accurate models of the battlegrounds, now in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. He completed several significant First World War memorial commissions, some on a massive scale, both overseas and in Australia, including those at Malvern, Parkville, Shepparton, the University of Melbourne in Victoria, and at Broken Hill in New South Wales.

Web Gilbert, Australia 1867-1925 / The bomber c.1915-21 / Bronze / 58 x 29 x 32 cm / Purchased 1967 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

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Feature image detail: Web Gilbert The bomber c.1915-21

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